The 2019 MotoGP season is over and with it the career of Jorge Lorenzo who announced his retirement from the sport after a difficult season aboard the factory Honda.
Rumours about whether Lorenzo would be retiring from the sport have circulated throughout the season, with those rumours finally ending when Lorenzo announced he would not be competing in 2020 at the final Grand Prix weekend of 2019.
It brings to an end what is perceived as his most uncompetitive season in the MotoGP class and to some has ensured he hasn’t tarnished his legacy any further, having struggled in the two seasons he had with Ducati prior to his switch to Honda.
However, personally, I think it is a shame that he has decided to retire as it would have been great to see him go away and come back stronger in 2020. I also don’t think that this season or the two previous with Ducati have tarnished Lorenzo’s legacy within the sport.
To start with his time at Honda, I don’t feel Lorenzo had a fair go at getting the best out of the bike having carried injuries sustained at the back end of 2018 through into the start of 2019, and then to aggravate this further by having to miss four races of the 2019 season due to a back injury. It is also worth noting that since his return at the British Grand Prix, Lorenzo has been feeling his way back to fitness.
This is why it would have been good to see Lorenzo continue into 2020 where he could have potentially been fitter and therefore been more competitive, as he has struggled to get anywhere near even the sort of form he had in his debut season with Ducati which I see to do with having to nurse injuries, compromising the ability to extract as much as possible from the bike and himself.Embed from Getty Images
In contrast his 2017 season with Ducati saw Lorenzo achieve three podiums which formed a total of fourteen finishes inside the points with ten of those inside the top ten. In 2019 Lorenzo has only managed eight points finishes, none inside the top ten with his highest finish being eleventh which he achieved at the French Grand Prix.
I feel that any view of Lorenzo having tarnished his legacy is in part due to his incredible success in his Yamaha years where he finished no lower than fourth in the MotoGP class from his debut in 2008 to the 2016 season, his final with Yamaha.
Other factors which I think have conspired against Lorenzo are that he went from what is perceived an easy bike to ride in the Yamaha to more difficult bikes in the Ducati and Honda. There is also the two year rider contract cycle which doesn’t help either as it effectively gave Lorenzo, and any other rider for that matter, a season or season and a half in order to get to terms with new machinery. This is evident in Lorenzo’s case where it took him until the sixth round of 2018, his twenty fourth race with Ducati, before he won with the Italian manufacturer, by which point it appeared he had already been let go by Ducati for 2019.Embed from Getty Images
I believe it was brave and a welcome sight for Lorenzo to challenge himself with learning a new type of bike having spent so long on the Yamaha. This is something that generates a lot of debate and can enhance a rider’s reputation in the sport, with similar questions and debate surrounding the idea of Marc Marquez and Fabio Quartararo switching bike manufacturer.
It is also important that those in the future in MotoGP aren’t scared or wary of switching to a different bike manufacturer as there are those who made a successful transition, most notably Valentino Rossi when he moved from Honda to Yamaha.
Its a shame that Lorenzo has retired, as mentioned it would have been great had he been able to turn it around in 2020, even if he only got to the level of his 2017 Ducati season. But as has been said, he has had an incredible career, and to me that includes his final three seasons in the premier class.